In the fall of 2016, Sarasota Herald-Tribune staff writer Carrie Seidman launched an art/ journalism project, in conjunction with her fellowship from the Carter Center for Mental Health Journalism, aimed at eliminating prejudice against individuals with mental illness. FACEing Mental Illness: The Art of Acceptance invited individuals within the community with a mental health condition of any kind, to create a self-portrait exploring their feelings about their challenges. A series of free workshops were held monthly, where art supplies and professional guidance were available to all. Many participants also chose to share their mental health journeys in depth, through interviews and in videos, and their stories ran weekly in the Herald-Tribune. Hundreds of community members volunteered time or gave generously to help underwrite the costs of the supplies, workshops, transportation and a film documenting the project’s progress. Dozens of local business contributed in-kind services, from framing to refreshments. The project culminated with a month-long exhibition of all the project artwork at the Selby Public Library in downtown Sarasota in March 2017. In the following pages, you will find many of the stories and most of the artwork created for the project. It is our hope that community efforts like this one will help change our culture’s attitudes about mental illness and promote better mental health for everyone.
Portraits by Sarasota Herald-Tribune photojournalists
Artwork photography by Wayne Eastep